Check out pics of the first playoff game to be held in BVAA Compass Stadium with a Dynamo win.
Last year, Sporting Kansas City were the darlings of Major League Soccer. This group of high-flying kids played an attractive brand of soccer with their 4-3-3 formation. Their road to the MLS Cup was set: sail through the Eastern Conference with home-field advantage at their sparkly new venue.
Along came the Houston Dynamo, who left LIVESTRONG Sporting Park with a 2-0 victory, the Eastern Conference Championship, and a berth in the 2011 MLS Cup.
2012 was supposed to be the year of redemption for Sporting. Now a year older and a year wiser, they ran through the regular season with yet again, another Eastern Conference top finish. Their road to the MLS Cup was set, sail through the Eastern Conference with home-field advantage.
Along came the Dynamo; this time to square off in a two-leg aggregate goal series in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. And with the first leg played yesterday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo took control of the series with a 2-0 win.
But unlike the celebrating that took place last year in Kansas City, the mood surrounding the Dynamo yesterday was a bit subdued.
"We didn't celebrate in [the locker room]," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "It was a congratulations on a day's hard work completed. But saying that, you know it's a two-legged affair."
Kinnear talked to his team before the match about starting the game quickly. The Dynamo responded by putting constant pressure on the ball. In the 17th minute, they earned their first corner kick. Although Brad Davis' initial cross was cleared out of the area, the Dynamo kept applying pressure on the defense. Seconds later, Will Bruin headed down another Sporting clearance to the feet of Adam Moffat, who rifled a high volley shot into the back of the net.
The goal gave the Dynamo confidence going forward. They continued to put constant physical pressure on Sporting, causing them to lose possession. After the match, Sporting head coach Peter Vermes complained about the refs allowing the Dynamo to play an "overly aggressive," physical game. The Dynamo believe they just gave Sporting a dose of their own medicine.
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"They're a physically imposing team; they've done that to a lot of teams this year," Moffat said. "We're always up for a battle as well."
They Dynamo were rewarded again in the 75 minute. After receiving a long ball, Calen Carr flicked the ball to his left, causing Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin to spin and lose sight of Carr. Carr went up the flank and to the baseline, where he found a wide-open Bruin there to kick in his third post-season goal in the last two matches.
Bruin's goal gave the Dynamo a little breathing room heading into the second leg this Wednesday night at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City. For Kinnear and his team, the end of Sunday's match is half-time. The Dynamo look to replicate a performance like yesterdays, hoping to once again find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"This affair here with Kansas City is 180 minutes; a lot can go on in 90 minutes," Kinnear explained. "We put ourselves in a good spot with hard work and determination... And for us to be in a good spot, we have to continue that - we can't let down."